However you slice it — from May 1 or from June 15 — the summer months haven't been a great time to be long in equities. The seasonal downturn has given rise to the market adage "sell in May and go away."
But if you choose carefully, you could stay — and profit. We used Kensho, a tool designed to quantify historical market events, to find the best summer trades over the last decade that have outperformed a historically listless market. We looked for the leading stocks from May 1 to Oct. 31.
Curiously enough, the top trades go pretty well with summer activities. First, the "BBQ" stocks. Food, beverage and tobacco stocks have been reliable winners during the warmest months. Cigarette-maker Reynolds American and spirits manufacturer Constellation Brands have averaged double-digit returns from May to October over the last 10 years.
Select consumer staple ETFs such as the Vanguard Consumer Staples ETF, Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund and PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage Portfolio have also outperformed the broader markets.
But if beer and barbecues aren't your thing, these sports stocks have been good bets over the summer months. Under Armour has traded positive nine of the last 10 summers and returned nearly 20 percent on average.
As always, past performance is no guarantee of future returns and we're having a bit of fun with these trades. But if you do consider some of these historical summer leaders, who knows — they could even help pay for a six-pack or two.
DISCLOSURE: NBC Universal, the parent of CNBC, is a minority investor in Kensho.